US Flexing Muscle in Gulf, Sends Message to Iran It's beefing up defenses of Arab nations in the region By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Jan 30, 2010 5:04 PM CST 19 comments Comments Gen. David Petraeus speaks with reporters in Baghdad Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo) (Newser) – The US is ramping up military cooperation with Arab states in the Persian Gulf ahead of a possible showdown with Iran. The New York Times and the Washington Post weigh in with essentially the same story, both quoting anonymous administration and military officials. The strategy—which includes placing ships off the Iranian coast and beefing up the anti-missile systems of Iran's neighbors—is intended to increase the pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program and to deter any retaliation if sanctions eventually come about. "It's a tough neighborhood, and we have to make sure we are protected," a senior government official in one of the Arab states tells the Post. The strategy also includes unprecedented cooperation between the US military and the militaries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait.